In October 2005, my family was dealt an unbelievable blow. My father, Jim, was diagnosed with ALS, and was given 6 months to live. In life, he was a gifted carpenter, a great friend to all who knew him, but above all else, an incredible father & husband. I had just graduated from college and moved home that fall, unsure of where my life was going. Coupled with his diagnosis, I was absolutely devastated. 

The months ticked by, and while the disease progressed, his initial diagnosis of 6 months was inaccurate. My father was strong, resilient, and wouldn't let his situation dictate his life. His spirits remained high; his perspective was always one of a man who thought of himself blessed. Growing up his trademark phrase for when things went bad was "[I'll, we'll, you'll] make the best of it."

For my dad, being diagnosed with ALS was just another situation to make the best of, and we did. We laughed, we cried, we took trips [visiting the Hoover Dam, something my father found supremely fascinating, is one of my most cherished memories]. The enormity of the situation was never lost on us, but we all knew that life doesn’t stop for anyone, and to enjoy the time we had left was the best and only thing we could do.

My father passed in December 2008. In the 3+ years after his diagnosis, my dad showed me what real strength was. His demeanor and good humor throughout it all was beyond inspirational, and for me, that was the silver lining of a completely awful situation. Witnessing his poise in the face of such immense personal tragedy transformed me from being a lost 22 year-old to being a confident young man. As horrible as this time was, I will forever be grateful for the life lessons that came from it.

Jim DiGiando was more than my father. He was my hero, the mold for what I aspire to be in this life. It is in his honor that I am running the Harpoon 5 Miler for the 11th consecutive time. It is for his memory that I am fundraising for the Angel Fund.

In the Harpoon 5 Miler I have found continued strength for proceeding with my life. Being surrounded by such a strong community reminds me good can come from tragedy. I am by no means a runner. I consider a run of more than 20 yards to be “distance running.” But I will keep running and supporting this race until I physically am unable to; or when ALS is finally cured. Let’s hope that it is the latter.

One day ALS will just be a footnote in history. I ask that you please help in the quest to make that day come sooner than later. Support the Harpoon 5 Miler & support the Angel Fund.

In Loving Memory,

Mike DiGiando

To donate to the memory of Jim DiGiando, please go to the Team Jim DiGiando fundraising page.